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Strike the right balance in your diet
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“Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you…” That is a song we all like to sing because it means birthday cake is coming! Today is my daughter’s birthday and Saturday is my son’s birthday so we get to have birthday cake TWICE this week!

And you know what they say… birthday cake has no calories!

Okay — sigh — birthday cake has plenty of calories. So does retirement cake, wedding cake and grandma’s famous cold-oven pound cake. We just don’t want to think of them. And we shouldn’t have to. Desserts are intended to be something to enjoy. Unless you are celebrating with a cake at every meal every day (and if you are, you have a special situation!), a piece of birthday cake, a scoop of homemade ice-cream, or that Death-by-Chocolate dessert at your favorite restaurant are not dietary enemies.

It’s our lack of balance and intentional choices that does us in.

I was sitting in the salon the other day and the lady in the chair next to me was talking about her new diet. It required her to eat every three hours in a very specific food combination. To hear her talk about it, you would think she had discovered gold. She was excited about it, challenged by it, and inspired by it. She was being very intentional about what she was eating. And that is what mattered. For now.

How long can that last? If we are not enjoying our food, we do not strike the balance between taste and nutrient intake. The balance is important because it keeps us from becoming food robots (who only eat in order to survive) as well as from becoming gluttonous.

National Nutrition Month was last month (I know, you are just as disappointed as I am that we missed it — for more information, go to The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics produces this yearly nutrition and education and information campaign to focus attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.

Informed food choices and sound eating habits. That sounds like something we should aim for every month of the year, doesn’t it?

It comes down to being intentional about what we are putting in our mouth by asking questions such as:

• What am I eating and drinking?
• How much am I eating and drinking?
• How has what I am eating and drinking been prepared?
• (my personal favorite) Is what I am eating delicious?

Consider preparation options like grilling, roasting, steaming, or stir frying. Consider opting out of seconds on everything. Consider choosing water or unsweet tea (that remains unsweet) instead of sweet tea or diet drinks. Consider your serving size at home versus eating out. Consider your taste buds vs. your just-because. Consider all your options. But in all considerations, be intentional.

When we are intentional about our food, we enjoy it more. And the balance is naturally more within striking distance. Because considering all the options and enjoying the results go hand in hand. And they lead to sound eating habits and informed food choices.

Your food choices might not be the same choices I would make. But, especially if you have chronic health problems or battle with yo-yo weight loss, the balance is very important. Talk to your doctor for more information specific to you.
If we are intentional, then it doesn’t matter if birthday cake has calories (even when you get to eat it twice in one week). We can intentionally strike the right balance and enjoy the celebration(s) at hand.

Hosanna Fletcher has lived in Newton County since 2005. With a Masters in Public Health and another in Sociology, she has worked on a variety of community development projects, led training sessions for Lay Health Advisors, conducted and evaluated health risk assessments, and designed and implemented employee wellness programs. Hosanna and her husband Kevin, a Newton County native, have been married for 15 years this October. They have two children — Miranda, 11, and Thomas, 3.